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Information for patients affected by the closure of Walla Walla General Hospital

June 28, 2017

Media Contact:

For more information and interview requests, contact:

  • Providence St. Mary Medical Center
    Kathleen Obenland
    Director, Executive & Community Relations
    Send an Email »

The closure of the Adventist Health facilities will affect many individuals. To help those who are affected to navigate through all of the changes, Providence St. Mary and Providence Medical Group have assembled answers to the most common questions we are receiving, including about primary care doctors, medical insurance plans, transferring medical records, prescription refills and more.

My primary care doctor is among those who will be affected by the closure of Adventist Health facilities in Walla Walla. Should I look for a new doctor?

Many of the affected physicians have indicated their desire to remain in the community. Providence St. Mary and Providence Medical Group have contacted many of them, and it is our understanding other local clinics have reached out to them as well. You may wish to wait to see if your doctor stays.

How will I learn if my provider has been hired by Providence?

Providence will publicly announce the hiring of physicians, post information to providence.org/wallawalla and work to notify patients.

If my provider leaves the community, will I be able to establish care with Providence Medical Group?

Providence Medical Group is committed to meeting the needs of this community, including in primary care.  Our family practice providers are discussing expanding their practices to accommodate more new patients, and we also are looking at expanding the hours of Urgent Care. The Express Care Clinic across the street from WalMart in College Place already has capacity.

If my provider joins Providence, where will his or her office be?

The location of practices is being discussed. Patients will be notified when arrangements are finalized.

What are my options if I need medical care before I can get established with a new provider?

  • Providence Express Care Virtual. You can receive treatment for common issues from a Providence provider over your computer or mobile device at virtual.providence.org. No appointments are needed. It’s available from 8 a.m. to midnight, 7 days a week.
  • Providence Express Care Clinic in College Place, across from WalMart. Walk in and make a same-day appointment, make one online at ProvidenceExpressCare.org, or call 888-227-3312. It’s open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 7 days a week for the treatment of minor illnesses and injuries.
  • Providence Urgent Care, 380 Case Street, 509-897-3000. Walk in with no appointment necessary. Receive care for injuries or illnesses that do not require hospitalization but need prompt attention. Current hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. These hours may expand.
  • Providence St. Mary Emergency Department, 401 W. Poplar Street. For potentially life-threatening illnesses or injuries, open 24 hours a day, every day including holidays.
  • There also are a number of clinics not affiliated with Providence that provide primary care in Walla Walla, including the Walla Walla Clinic, 525-3720, and Family Medical Center, 525-6650.

What happens to my medical records?

Adventist Health has stated that it will store your medical records for three years. You can ask that your records be transferred by filling out an Adventist Health authorization form. Learn about the process from Adventist Health here »

If you choose Providence Medical Group as your new medical provider, we also can request the records on your behalf. You will be asked to sign a form directing us to do so.

It’s important to note that when medical records are transferred between providers, there is no fee for the service. However, if you receive the records directly, you may be charged a copying fee.

Providence Medical Group recommends that if you are seeing one of our providers, please have your records transferred before your first appointment.

If I keep my current doctor, and he or she joins Providence, do I need to take any action with my medical records?

Yes. Since your provider will have a new employer, Providence Medical Group, you will be asked to authorize transfer of your medical records to Providence.

What should I do for prescription refills in the interim?

You are strongly encouraged to request a refill supply of prescription medications from your current provider to carry you through until your appointment with a new provider.

What is Providence doing to address concerns about medical insurance plan coverage? A number of plans have contracts with Adventist Health, but not with Providence Health & Services. Will patients with these plans have to pay out-of-network fees for care?

Providence Health & Services has reached out to the medical insurance companies that have contracts with Adventist Health in Walla Walla. Our goal is to have contracts with these companies in place before WWGH closes so that Providence St. Mary and Providence Medical Group will be in network for patients holding these plans. We will provide updates as more information becomes available.

Does Providence have enough hospital beds?

It’s normal in health care for the number of patients in a hospital to fluctuate a great deal over the course of the year. In the summer, Providence St. Mary has averaged around 50 hospitalized patients. During the flu epidemic, at one point there were 85. Providence St. Mary is licensed for 142 beds. Providence is accustomed to flexing to meet the need.

Is there enough ER capacity at Providence St. Mary?

We anticipate hiring additional staff to increase the capacity of the Emergency Department. We also will expand the capacity in our Urgent Care on Chase Street. In addition, in February, we opened the Express Care Clinic in College Place across from WalMart for treatment of minor injuries, illnesses and basic testing.

Who can I contact if I have a question or want to make a suggestion?

You can ask a question or send us a suggestion here »